We know that the mention of SATs can make both pupils and parents nervous. This is, no doubt, partly fueled by coverage in the media which is unfortunately often simplistic and inaccurate. So we’d like to explain how the SATs work, and how Horspath School approaches them.

Contrary to media reports of “continual testing” of children, your child will only take two sets of national tests in their eight years at primary school, and only one of these is externally marked.

Key Stage 1

Key Stage 1 SATs in reading and maths are taken by year 2 children, typically a week or two before half term in May. There is also a GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) test which schools can choose to use or not. At Horspath, we do currently use it, because it helps to give us a picture of a child’s overall writing ability. We may review this decision in future years.

The tests are marked internally and are used to inform the teacher’s assessment of your child’s current level of achievement. If the teacher feels the test scores are not an accurate reflection of the child’s ability, they are not compelled to report the level indicated by the test.

The KS1 tests are carried out without a major fanfare. Indeed, many children are not even aware they are any different to informal testing that takes place throughout their time at school. There is no need for any revision or preparation for these tests. If your child is feeling stressed or nervous about KS1 SATs, please do talk to the class teacher – any pressure for your child to perform in these tests is not coming from the school, so it would be helpful for everyone to work out the cause of this as soon as possible.

Teachers also assess children’s writing ability against criteria set by the Department for Education; this is based on work the children have done over a longer period of time, not just during the SATs week.

The KS1 results are included with your child’s end of year report in July.

Key Stage 2

Key Stage 2 SATs are taken by year 6 children in early May. Again, these include tests in reading, maths and GPS. Unlike KS1, all year 6 children in England take the tests at the same time, and these are marked externally. Teachers also assess children’s writing ability against criteria set by the Department for Education; this is based on work the children have done over a longer period of time, not just during the SATs week.

Results are published in early July – see below for more information.

For KS2 SATs, we do spend time preparing children for the tests. Performing effectively in exam conditions is not a skill that comes naturally to every child, but it is something that will be important for all children throughout their school careers. We believe that it is entirely appropriate for children to start learning this at the age of 10 or 11.

We do encourage children to be well-prepared so they can complete the tests to the best of their ability.  Of course, all children are different and react to this extra pressure in different ways – some thrive on it, others do not. If you are worried about how your child is reacting, please do talk to the class teacher so we can address your concern.

Understanding KS2 SATs results

KS2 reading, maths and GPS SAT results are expressed as a scaled score. A score of 100 indicates that the child has reached the level of achievement expected by the Department for Education (DfE). A score below 100 indicates the child is working below the expected level; scores ranging from 80 to 120 indicate working below or above the expected level. For more details, see the DfE’s site.

A score below 100 is not a cause for alarm – it is merely one of many indicators of a child’s level of achievement. It could indicate areas for improvement once the child reaches secondary school; it could just indicate that more work on exam discipline is needed to reflect the child’s true ability. It should not be perceived as a “fail” – despite what you may hear, there is no such thing as a “fail” in KS2 SATs.

The media often refers to “high stakes testing” at KS2. This is unhelpful and inaccurate, because no child’s future is determined by their performance in SATs. No school in Oxfordshire selects children based on their SAT scores. While the scores are passed on to your child’s secondary school, we do not believe any local schools use this data to stream year 7 classes.

The data sent on to secondary schools includes both the test scores and the teacher’s assessment. If a child is working at the expected level, but underperformed on the day of the test, this will be clear in the data provided. The converse is also true, and this is equally important because it would be unhelpful for a good test score to hide gaps in a child’s learning that need to be addressed.

We want every year 6 child to perform to the best of their ability in the SATs to give an accurate reflection of what they have learned at Horspath, and where there is room for improvement.